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If you haven't already, please read my little essay about the purpose of a political party. Grounded in the view that a political party ought to stand on principle above personality, tomorrow at the 2017 Tulsa County Republican Convention I'll be voting for David McLain for Tulsa County GOP chairman.

David McLain is a Skiatook resident, a small businessman in the construction industry, and a veteran of the U. S. Navy. David and Aleen, his wife of 26 years, have three grown children and two grandchildren. In the fall of 2015, McLain won the GOP nomination for the Senate District 34 special election, a grassroots candidate who defeated a heavily favored establishment candidate backed by Obama funder George Kaiser and the Chambercrats. McLain narrowly lost the January 2016 general special election to a popular Owasso high school coach who downplayed his party affiliation

Prior to his own campaign, McLain volunteered for conservative candidates around Skiatook, helping several to victory in Tulsa County and also in neighboring Osage County, protecting State Rep. Sean Roberts and electing a Republican Sheriff and County Commissioner in the traditionally Democrat county. McLain has emphasized the importance of volunteers to party success. Two announced chairman candidates have quit the race to support McLain, and one of them, Terry Flattem, a frequent volunteer at the county party office, is running for vice chairman on a ticket with McLain.

McLain's only announced opponent for the chairmanship is Monica Deon, a leader of the Trump 2016 campaign in Tulsa. Trump, you will recall, finished third in Tulsa County, behind Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, despite his notoriety and wall-to-wall TV coverage. In the general election, Trump significantly underperformed Mitt Romney's 2012 effort and John McCain's 2008 performance in Tulsa County.

During a recent gathering of county party activists and leaders, Deon expressed disdain and contempt for the county party platform, agreeing heartily with someone who said that the platform was "asinine" and "hateful," and indirectly expressing disdain for the thoughtful activists who spent their spare time crafting it.

The RyanTrumpSwampCare mess of the past week is what you get when you eschew principle in favor of "just doing something." Trump was willing to embrace all the basic principles behind Obamacare and keep the country on the course to health care catastrophe just to say he got a bill passed. It was stunning to see Trump supporters defending a bill that entrenched many of the worst aspects of Obamacare, simply on the grounds that Trump supports it, and we must trust Trump.

We need party leaders willing to stand against bad ideas, even when they're being pushed by elected officials of our party.

Here is the slate I will be supporting at the 2017 Tulsa County GOP convention. All of these candidates understand the nuts and bolts of winning elections, understand the importance of pulling together various factions in the party, but at the same time have demonstrated by their actions that a party must stand for principle, if it's to have any meaning at all.

Chairman: David McLain
Vice Chairman: Terry Flattem
1st District Committeeman: Donny Tiemann
1st District Committeewoman: Amanda Teegarden

As of this writing, I don't know who all the candidates will be for Tulsa County's two seats on the State Committee, but I will either update this entry or post to my Twitter account once I make a decision on those races.

RESULTS:

Two candidates ran in five of the six races. Amanda Teegarden was unopposed for 1st District Committeewoman. The table below lists the raw vote (number of delegates present and voting for each candidate), the allocated vote (weighted per precinct, this is the vote that determines the winner -- see explanation below), and percentage of allocated vote. Victors are highlighted in bold font.

RaceCandidateRawAllocatedAllocated %
ChairmanDavid McLain163240.968.82%
ChairmanMonica Deon77109.131.18%
Vice ChairmanTerry Flattem157230.866.50%
Vice ChairmanMike Ford80116.333.50%
StateCommitteemanMike McCutchin153218.763.22%
StateCommitteemanMichael Phillips88127.336.78%
State CommitteewomanLydia D'Ross122176.651.04%
State CommitteewomanAlivia Rawls118169.448.96%
1st DistrictCommitteemanDonny Tiemann168240.669.54%
1st DistrictCommitteemanDan Miller72105.430.46%
1st District CommitteewomanAmanda Teegarden100.00%

A simplified explanation of allocated votes: Each precinct is allocated a certain number of votes, based on the number of votes cast by that precinct for the top of the ticket at the previous general election (in this case, for president). A precinct can have more delegates present than votes, in which case the votes are weighted proportionately. If a precinct has fewer delegates present than votes, the votes are also weighted proportionately, but only up to a maximum of two votes per delegate. During the precinct roll call, each precinct chairman announces the raw vote totals, a teller types the numbers into a spreadsheet, and the spreadsheet calculates the allocated totals.

Examples: Precinct 222 is allocated 3 votes, based on how well the Republican nominee. If 5 delegates are present, each delegate's vote counts for 3/5 (0.6) of a vote. If 2 delegates are present, each delegate's vote counts for 3/2 (1.5) votes. If only 1 delegate is present, each delegate's vote counts for 2 votes, as 2 is the maximum under state party rules.

Today, I was the teller, typing numbers into Excel and trying to distinguish between the names of the two candidates for state committeewoman, which share an almost identical sequence of vowel sounds and a few consonants, too.

Votes were cast by 103 out of 263 precincts.

In the process of typing in the numbers for each precinct, I picked up on some patterns in the voting.

Although the winning totals were very similar across four of the five competitive races, and although many of the winning candidates had the same group of supporters, there weren't full slates as such.

The vice chairman vote typically tracked with the vote for chairman -- not surprising since each chairman candidate endorsed a vice chairman as a running mate. There were some differences, however, and my guess is that, since one of the vice chairman candidates was the outgoing chairman, tickets were split based on experiences, positive or negative, with Ford himself. In 21 precincts, the two candidates had different totals, with a total magnitude of 25. (This count would not reveal a circumstance where two ticket-splitters in the same precinct cancelled out each other's votes, so the true number of ticket-splitters might be higher..) But the ticket-splitting balanced out overall, so that Ford received only 3 votes more than running mate Deon.

The closest race was for State Committeewoman. Lydia D'Ross has been involved in the local GOP for a number of years; Alivia Rawls is a young newcomer, a former Miss Owasso and Miss Tulsa State Fair. D'Ross had many of the same seconders as the other victorious candidates, yet she had only four more raw votes than Rawls. I had not heard that either candidate would be running prior to today. I suspect that some concern about D'Ross combined with a desire to reach out to a new generation combined to make the race a close one.

Mike McCutchin, who served as chairman 2013-2015, had the next lowest winning total, but was within 15 votes of Donnie Tiemann, who had the highest total. Of the 103 precincts in which votes were cast, 64 of them had different vote totals for McLain and McCutchin, and 61 had different totals for Deon and McCutchin. Both McCutchin and Phillips seem to be well regarded by everyone, but McCutchin also had a record of service focused on applying his process-oriented mind to the needs of the county party.

The 1st District Committeeman's race was more strongly correlated with the chairman's race -- differences in only 20 precincts. Tiemann was the sole incumbent running for re-election, and I've heard no complaints about his performance.

rino-768px.pngWe are at interesting point in Oklahoma's political history. Never before has the Republican Party ever been so dominant, but never before has it been in such danger of betraying the ideals that won it its dominant position. The task of the moment is not merely to win elections, but to protect the Republican brand, and to ensure that our platform, grounded in the timeless truths of human nature and economic behavior, is carried out. All of the hard work of Republican activists can be undone by Republican elected officials who are cowed by institutional resistance, led astray by their own sinful appetites, bedazzled by the blandishments of lobbyists (and the allure of post-politics job prospects), or simply flying a flag of political convenience.

When I began to follow politics in the early 1970s, Oklahoma was very nearly a one-party state, but that one party was the Democrats, which had owned Oklahoma politics since statehood. Birthed in the agrarian populism of William Jennings Bryan and Alfalfa Bill Murray, the attachment of Oklahoma to the Democratic Party was cemented by the New Deal in the crisis of the Great Depression. If you wanted a say in the choice of a legislator or county commissioner, you had to be registered Democrat in most of Oklahoma.

As of Oklahoma's 75th birthday in 1982, only two Republicans had served as Oklahoma governor, for one term each, and Republicans had only managed control of the State House for two years following the Harding landslide of 1921. A handful of Republicans, mainly from the two major cities or the northwestern wheat belt, had served in the U. S. House. The national Democratic Party's weakness against Communist aggression and flirtation with the social theories of the left began to alienate Oklahoma voters, who began choosing Republicans for president and U. S. Senate. But at every level below that, the Democrats still enjoyed an electoral lock. It was another three decades before Republicans replaced Democrats as the dominant party.

We know from history and experience that the principles of limited government, individual liberty and responsibility, sanctity of human life, and the natural family bring peace and prosperity to a society. But rent-seekers want subsidies, bureaucrats want sinecures, sociopaths want power, perverts want affirmation, and everyone wants irresponsibility without consequence (except the victims of that irresponsibility). It takes tenacity to move forward for the values that build and maintain civilization in the face of such a headwind.

To move forward successfully, we need a political organization that not only wins elections by espousing these timeless values, but also carries those values forward in legislation, judgment, and executive action. That is why political parties exist -- to implement a set of principles and policies that its members believe most conducive to the public good. Under such a view, party leaders and activists must not only elect candidates to public office, they must also hold those elected officials accountable.

An elected official who pursues policies contrary to his party's fundamental ideals is damaging his party's brand. If the Republican Party's principles are most conducive to the peace and prosperity of our nation, as we believe, if the contrary policies are pursued by officials carrying the GOP label, our party will be blamed for the inevitable ruin, and we will lose office and the opportunity to carry the right principles into practice. Therefore, when an elected official acts against the purposes of the party, it is appropriate for party leaders to denounce that official and work against his continued service in office.

Unfortunately, there's another perspective on the purpose of a party. I call this the "empty vessel" theory. In this view, the Republican Party is just a vehicle for whoever manages to win a Republican primary. By this definition, any policy promoted by a Republican elected official is a good policy. By this view, a party official's job is to promote and protect anyone in office with an (R) after his name, no matter how damaging his policies. By definition, a Republican elected official beyond criticism. In this view, a platform is not only futile but dangerous, as taking a firm stand on any issue has the potential to alienate a prospective voter.

Without a platform that it seeks to accomplish, a party is little more than a social club, a gang competing with other gangs to see which one gets to loot the public treasury.

Yes, party leaders need to understand the nuts and bolts of campaigns, the art and craft of conveying a persuasive message to the voters. But before any of that matters, you had better have a message worth conveying. As I vote in this year's party elections, I'll be voting for party officials who put principle above personality.

These seem to vanish as soon as they're posted, but here's a series of clips from a 1981 Austin City Limits episode featuring three virtuoso mandolinists, playing blues and swing:

The line up, from left to right, front to back:

Johnny Gimble - mandolin and fiddle
Tiny Moore - mandolin and fiddle
Jethro Burns - mandolin
Eldon Shamblin - guitar
Tom Prisk - drums
Rob Wasserman - bass

Track list:

Blues in G / Fat Boy Rag
How High the Moon
Tiny's Rag
Jethro's Tune
Fiddle medley:
Swing 39
Groovin' High

Thanks to YouTube channel "Rare Tracks" for posting these.

Note that Jethro has a traditional eight-string mandolin -- each string doubled -- while Johnny plays a four-string electric, and Tiny has his Bigsby five-string solid body mandolin, a.k.a. "the biggest little instrument in the world," which adds a low C to the range.

That link is to an essay by Deke Dickerson on Tiny Moore's career and his unique approach to the mandolin, and also features a photo of Eldon, Tiny, and Johnny with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, probably from 1949, 32 years before the above videos, in which they're still going strong.

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Front row: Eldon Shamblin, Tiny Moore, Johnny Gimble, Bob Wills, Alex Brashear, Herb Remington. Back row: Luther J. "Luke" Wills, Billy Jack Wills, Jack Loyd, Doc Lewis. This was the lineup for the Texas Playboys' second session for MGM, in May 1949, and their first session without Tommy Duncan.

MORE:

A page and photos about Tiny Moore on eMando.com.

Here's some info from western swing historian Buddy McPeters about the earlier Gibson mandolins played by Moore and Gimble and how they were modified for amplification.

Jay Cronley, RIP

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Longtime Tulsa newspaper columnist, novelist, and screenwriter Jay Cronley has died at the age of 73. Cronley was an institution on the front of the City/State section of the Tulsa Tribune, then made the transition to the Tulsa World after the World's publisher purchased and shuttered the Tribune. Cronley's curmudgeonly voice ran under his own byline and also that the Tribune Picks, the cynical weekly take on the weekend's upcoming football games. Growing up in a Tribune household, I looked forward to Jay's thrice-weekly columns and weekly football picks (everyone suspected it was him). When I subscribed to the Tribune by mail in college, Cronley's columns were among the reasons I felt no embarrassment in leaving the Tribune on the commons coffee tables next to the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal.

Cronley left the World just about a year ago, but continued to write three times a week, behind a paywall, on his own website, jaycronley.com. His final piece, "Mayfield Punishment is No Gimmie," appeared on February 26, 2017.

In his final column for the World, Cronley explained what it takes to be a descriptive writer.

Good column writing is descriptive.

At TU, I had them make a list of descriptions.

Cold as what?

One of them wrote cold as the devil.

What makes a good columnist?

It's simple: reading.

If I wanted to become a writer all over again I'd major in English, where you have to read literature. In journalism school, too often you read textbooks. The only way to learn how to write is to read. Reading literature is how you learn to think. You can be taught to be a reporter. When you read literature, you see what works through the ages and what didn't.

That's a good point in favor of the classical approach to education and the benefits of a liberal arts education. The only exception I'd take to Jay's suggestion is that majoring in English these days would likely get you bogged down in intersectional theory and identity politics, while keeping you away from the classic works that would make you a better writer. Better you should find a school that teaches the Great Books, the canon of Western Civilization. I've been encouraging my wordsmith daughter to take a close look at those sorts of schools, the kind that accepts the new Classic Learning Test.

The World has made available Jay Cronley's final columns for the paper and a selection of favorites over the years.

A dictionary of the ancient Akkadian language, the language of Assyria and Babylon, has been completed after 90 years and published by the University of Chicago.

"This is a heroic and significant moment in history," beamed Dr Irving Finkel of the British Museum's Middle East department.

As a young man in the 1970s Dr Finkel dedicated three years of his life to The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project which is based at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

That makes him something of a spring chicken in the life story of this project, which began in 1921.

Almost 90 experts from around the world took part, diligently recording and cross referencing their work on what ended up being almost two million index cards.

The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is 21 volumes long and is encyclopaedic in its range. Whole volumes are dedicated to a single letter, and it comes complete with extensive references to original source material throughout.

Once again, we see that human nature has no history:

"It is a miraculous thing," enthuses Dr Finkel.

"We can read the ancient words of poets, philosophers, magicians and astronomers as if they were writing to us in English...."

But what is so striking according to the editor of the dictionary, Prof Martha Roth, is not the differences, but the similarities between then and now.

"Rather than encountering an alien world, we encounter a very, very familiar world," she says, with people concerned about personal relationships, love, emotions, power, and practical things like irrigation and land use.

If you want a copy for the bookshelf, it's only nineteen-ninety-five -- $1,995, that is. If you just want access to the info, the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary is available for free download.

Volume 6 (Het) was the first volume published, back in 1956. Its foreword explains how the entries are ordered and organized. Volume 1 (A, part 1) has an introduction that tells the history of the discovery and study of the Akkadian language, beginning in a small way in the 17th century and blossoming with the discoveries of Ninevah and Babylon in the early 19th century, and recounts the development of the dictionary from its inception in 1921 until the publication of Volume 1 in 1964.

Today, February 14, 2017, is the day that Oklahoma voters choose school board members and vote on school bond issues. Polls are open at the usual locations from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Four K-12 school board seats will be on the ballot, two of them in the Tulsa school district and one each in Union and Collinsville. Skiatook, Union, and Jenks districts have school bond issues. Two Tulsa Technology Center board seats are up for election as well. Owasso and Sand Springs each have a City Council seat before the voters.

TPS and TTC board seats are only for voters in the specific election district. In the other school districts, the member comes from a particular part of the district, but all voters in the district are eligible to vote.

I've provided a rough description of each district below, but check the maps for exact information. Where I could find a website or social media profile, I've linked them below. Party ID is based on voter registration data from March 2016, the most recent I have on hand.

Map of Tulsa Public Schools board member districts
Map of Tulsa Technology Center board member districts
Map of school district boundaries in and near Tulsa County

Tulsa Public Schools, Office No. 2: I-244 to Pine, from Detroit to Memorial; plus I-244 to 11th Street, from the IDL to Yale, plus Pine to Apache, from Osage County Line to Lewis. Rogers and Washington high schools fall within this zone.

Incumbent (and former County Commissioner) Wilbert Collins is on the ballot, but he has withdrawn from the race because of illness. Phil Armstrong (D) and Amy Shelton (I) have been actively campaigning for the seat. Vote411 has questionnaire responses from both candidates. Both candidates expressed hostility to school choice.

Tulsa Public Schools, Office No. 3: Everything north of I-244, except for the portion that falls in District 2.

Incumbent Lana Turner is opposed by Jennettie P. Marshall (D). Here is video of Turner speaking at the "Exploring Equity community conversation" last week. Whitney Cole also filed but is not actively campaigning.

The Oklahoma Eagle has endorsed Armstrong for Office 2 and Marshall for Office 3.

Union Public Schools, Office No. 2:

Patrick Coyle (R), the incumbent, is opposed by Lisa Ford (R) and Glenda K. Puett (D). Ford and Coyle both responded to the Vote 411 questionnaire. Coyle expressed hostility to school choice, while Ford seemed to think the question concerned students transferring into Union from other districts.

Tulsa Technology Center: Office No. 1 (seven-year term): City of Tulsa north of 21st and west of Yale, including Gilcrease Hills, plus Turley.

There is no incumbent. This election is for a full term. The candidates are Keenan H. Meadors (D), Melanie Sweeney McIntosh, and Ray A. Owens (D).

Tulsa Technology Center: Office No. 5 (unexpired term): Tulsa County north of 86th St. N., plus all of Owasso; Tulsa County west of the City of Tulsa, plus the sections of the TTC district in Creek, Pawnee, and Osage Counties (except Gilcrease Hills).

Danny Hancock (R) and Roy D. McClain are running for this unexpired term. The Vote411 voter guide has a candidate questionnaire, but Hancock was the only candidate to respond.

Owasso City Council, Ward 3:

Incumbent Bill Bush, who appears to be backed by city government insiders, is opposed by JC Prince and Randy Cowling. Prince has the support of the Owasso Taxpayers Alliance.

Sand Springs City Council, Ward 4:

The candidates are former State Senator Nancy Riley and Christine Hamner. Riley gained notoriety by switching from Republican to Democrat after her unsuccessful 2006 run for Lt. Governor, resulting in the State Senate being evenly split between Republicans and Democrats during the 51st Legislature.

Recipe: Texas caviar

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I need to post something every now and then, and this was something I wanted to record. It's a family favorite -- hope you enjoy it, too.

High in fiber and flavor, this is a favorite for eating with tortilla chips, on salad greens, or just straight out of a bowl. The "caviar" consists of beans and other small bits of vegetable, mixed and marinated in a spicy dressing. The recipe makes enough to fill three quart jars.

The substance:

  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz. can of black-eyed peas (plain, NOT with bacon), rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz. can of whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped into bean-sized pieces

The dressing:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 15 oz. cans of Ro-Tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 small bulb of garlic (8-10 cloves), pressed
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Mix the ingredients for the dressing into a bowl. Rinse and drain the beans, then add them to the dressing. Mix thoroughly and chill for a few hours.

The amount of cilantro is an approximation. I usually just take one bunch of cilantro, as sold at the supermarket, pluck the leaves and chop them. That turns out to be pretty close to a cup, and I don't have the bother of transferring tiny moist leaf bits from the chopper to a measuring cup and thence to the bowl, losing some each step of the way as they adhere to the side of each container. Our Kuhn Rikon Pull-and-Chop does a speedy job of mincing the leaves -- six pulls and done. The Brisbane-designed Dreamfarm Garject handles garlic pressing with ease -- no need to peel the cloves, and it's big enough to handle multiple cloves in one go.

For a lower-carb version, substitute a bell pepper for each can of beans/corn. You can also use cut green beans as a can-for-can substitute. You could even just make the dressing and enjoy it as a spicy, no-added-sugar, salad topping.

Other colors of bell pepper can be used, but the green makes a nice contrast to the red tomatoes and yellow corn.

Here is a link to the text of the executive order on CNN's website. (The White House website has yet to post it.)

David French, a columnist at National Review and a vocal opponent of Donald Trump -- so much so that he considered mounting an independent presidential campaign as a conservative alternative -- has written a detailed analysis of Trump's executive order regarding refugees from terrorist-ridden nations, placing this order in the context of the history of US policy toward refugees. Some excerpts:

First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump's 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush's two terms and a typical year in Obama's two terms. [See the article for a chart showing refugee ceilings and admissions over the last 40 years.]...

Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments....

The ban, however, contains an important exception: "Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked." In other words, the secretaries can make exceptions -- a provision that would, one hopes, fully allow interpreters and other proven allies to enter the U.S. during the 90-day period.

To the extent this ban applies to new immigrant and non-immigrant entry, this temporary halt (with exceptions) is wise. We know that terrorists are trying to infiltrate the ranks of refugees and other visitors. We know that immigrants from Somalia, for example, have launched jihadist attacks here at home and have sought to leave the U.S. to join ISIS.

Indeed, given the terrible recent track record of completed and attempted terror attacks by Muslim immigrants, it's clear that our current approach is inadequate to control the threat. Unless we want to simply accept Muslim immigrant terror as a fact of American life, a short-term ban on entry from problematic countries combined with a systematic review of our security procedures is both reasonable and prudent.

He also points out that the language of the order does not include legal permanent residents (green-card holders). These people have been thoroughly screened already.

James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has lived as a foreigner in Egypt and Canada, had to leave Egypt and live in a tent in a refugee camp in Cyprus, and is married to a Chinese immigrant. Prof. Hoffmeier published a book in 2009 about what Scripture says about immigration. He was interviewed at the time by Justin Taylor of the Gospel Coalition.

What I learned in my study is that there are three relevant terms used in Hebrew (ger, zar, nekhar). Different English translations render the words differently. The TNIV and NLT render them all as "foreigner." That is misleading and incorrect.

Zar and nekhar indeed refer to foreigners or visitors, people passing through a foreign land.

Ger or the verb gwr, which together occur more than 160 times in the OT, refer to foreign residents who live in another land with the permission of a host. A good example of this is found in Genesis when Joseph asks permission of pharaoh for his family to move to Egypt (Gen. 45:16-18). When they arrived, the brothers asked pharaoh if they could sojourn in the land (Gen. 47:1-4), and Pharaoh allotted them a section of the land of Goshen or Rameses (Gen. 47:5-7).

The law is clear that ger is not to be oppressed, but to receive equal justice, and have access to the social support system of ancient Israel. And there was a provision for religious inclusion, but they were also obligated to live in accordance with the laws just like the Israelites.

The Law does not, however, extend to the zar and nekhar such benefits and services. From this I conclude that ger was viewed as a legal alien.

The mistake of some well-meaning Christians is to apply the biblical laws for the ger to illegal aliens in American even though they do not fit the biblical legal and social definition.

By way of contrast, take a minute to read about Australia's refugee policy, which was adopted in response to a surge of refugees arriving by boat in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Anyone attempting to enter Australia illegally by boat is either returned whence they came or, if seeking asylum, sent to one of two offshore refugee processing centers, one on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (which is being closed) and one in the island nation of Nauru. Australia still accepts around 12,000 to 13,000 refugees each year, a number representing about half-a-thousandth of the national population. The policy has deterred attempts at illegal immigration by boat.

A few weeks ago, Nat Hentoff, a long-time columnist for the Village Voice, died. Despite the fact that Hentoff was a political liberal and an atheist, he was remembered fondly by many conservative Christians, particularly for his principled opposition to abortion and his defense of the freedom of speech, even for conservatives under attack from the left. From William Doino's tribute:

But nothing shocked the progressive world more than Hentoff's decision to become a pro-lifer, in the early 1980s, at the very moment the Left was attacking Ronald Reagan for defending the unborn. What infuriated "pro-choice" liberals most was Hentoff's assertion that he had come to his decision, not by means of any religious convictions, but by studying the very scientific and medical textbooks on conception and fetology which liberals--self-proclaimed supporters of reason and science--presumably supported.

Yet, as Hentoff pointed out in his many writings and talks on the subject, the problem for the "pro-choice" Left was--and remains--that there is overwhelming evidence that human life begins in the womb, and that the fetus is a developing human life, worthy of legal protection. Hentoff was also outraged by those liberals who openly supported infanticide and "mercy killings" for the old and disabled.

Hentoff believed his pro-life convictions were not only consistent with, but demanded by, his classic liberalism; and that it was those "liberals" who sanctioned the culture of death who were betraying their stated ideals in defense of human rights and the weakest members of our society.

Sadly, not all pro-life liberals have been as principled as Hentoff. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, Teddy Kennedy, Joe Biden, and Fritz Hollings are among the Democrat politicians who professed opposition to abortion as they climbed the political ladder in socially conservative states, then embraced abortion rights when they developed presidential ambitions. It seems likely that these politicians never really had convictions on the issue, just a willingness to say whatever it took to win. (These types exist in the GOP as well.)

One former Democrat presidential candidate is a different case entirely. Carl Trueman recalls a passage from Nat Hentoff's memoirs:

There is one passage in Speaking Freely (177-78) that offers disturbing insights into modern political culture. Hentoff quotes a certain politician on abortion: "What happens to the soul of a nation that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of society will we have twenty years hence if life can be taken so casually?" He also quotes the same politician on the right to privacy: "There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of a higher order than the right of life. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside of your right to be concerned." This politician had himself almost been aborted, and he saw the clear connection between the dehumanizing of a child in the womb and racial oppression, in that both involve a denial of real personhood to a human being.

Later on, this politician decided to run for president and magically changed his mind on abortion. His name? Jesse Jackson.

In his memoir, Hentoff recalls meeting Jackson on a train in 1994. As they journeyed together, Hentoff told Jackson that he frequently quoted his pro-life writings because they were among the most compelling he had read. Jackson, he said, looked troubled. Hentoff then asked the politician whether he had any second thoughts on his change of mind. Jackson looked even more troubled and said, "I'll get back to you on that." Hentoff ended the anecdote on this laconic note: "I haven't heard from him since."

This story brought back a memory. Ten years earlier, Jackson was making his first run for the White House. On January 15, 1984, the eight major candidates for the Democrat nomination -- Rev. Jackson, Senators Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, John Glenn, Alan Cranston, and Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, former Sen. George McGovern, and former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew -- participated in a debate on the campus of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The first half was moderated by ABC Nightline anchor Ted Koppel. The second half would feature questions from the audience, facilitated by daytime TV talk show star Phil Donahue.

Some pro-life activists in Boston had the idea of going to Dartmouth to demonstrate and, perhaps, to have the chance the be in the audience to ask the candidates to explain and defend their support for abortion. I remember a Campus Crusade for Christ staffer, Rita Tracy, driving myself and a few other MIT students up to Hanover to join in the effort. I remember standing out in the bitter cold just off campus, during the hour or so before the debate, holding signs and chanting, and that we all had trouble not laughing at ourselves -- we just didn't see ourselves as angry radicals.

We didn't get into the debate itself but watched on TV from another lecture hall. When the debate ended, the pro-life protesters gathered to consider our next move. The candidates were going to appear, two-by-two, in lecture halls around campus for townhall-style Q&A sessions. It would be another chance to confront the candidates on the abortion issue. Some of the group wanted to head to the session with Walter Mondale, because he was the front-runner. I suggested instead that we should go to the session with two formerly pro-life candidates, Jesse Jackson and Fritz Hollings, and challenge them to defend their about-face. And that's where most of us headed.

My memory of what happened next is rather vague. I seem to recall that the two candidates each had a set amount of time to field questions, and that we didn't get to direct a question about abortion to Jackson, but one of our number, an Orthodox rabbi from Boston, managed to ask Hollings about his changed views. Hollings gave the usual song-and-dance about being "personally opposed" to abortion but supporting the rights of women to make their own choices, a performance that only cemented his rhetorical resemblance to Foghorn Leghorn. (It was easy to imagine Hollings saying, "Fortunately, I keep my feathers numbered in case of just such an emergency.")

After the session ended, we poured out of the lecture hall onto the snowy quad, under a cold clear night. TV cameras surrounded Jackson, their lights making his eyes glow a green-gold color. I was about six feet away and was struck by his charismatic presence -- tall, with formal bearing, and quick to find a memorable phrase in answer to a reporter's question.

What impact might Jesse Jackson have made had he chosen to stick with his eloquent pro-life principles during that presidential campaign, had he put his charisma and rhetorical skill in the service of the sanctity of human life? In 1984, there were still plenty of pro-life voters among rank-and-file Democrats -- blue-collar Catholics from the Rust Belt and small-town southerners who backed Reagan in 1980 in part because of his bold opposition to abortion. Jackson might well have built a rainbow coalition that included pro-lifers as well as economic liberals and his fellow African Americans, and it might have been enough to get him to the nomination. His success as a pro-life candidate could have heartened pro-life officials, candidates, and voters to stick with the Democrat party. A Reagan-Jackson general election battle between two pro-life candidates might have driven pro-abortion activism to the fringes of American politics. We might have avoided the political self-sorting that drove social conservatives out of the Democrat Party of their grandparents and great-grandparents.

Win or lose, Jackson as pro-life candidate would have remained a credible voice not only for those who were weak and powerless because of their race, but those too small to speak for themselves. Instead, he abandoned his principles for the sake of the deep-pocketed Democrat donors who would only contribute to candidates who adhered to the absolutist pro-abortion position. His influence and moral authority has almost entirely evaporated, and his subsequent career and that of his son have been marred by scandal.

At least we still have his powerful words from before 1984. May God grant Jesse Jackson the grace of regret and repentance, and may he once again be a powerful voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

MORE:

Jesse Jackson's 1977 essay in Right to Life News.

In 1988, Colman McCarthy contrasted Rev. Jackson, 1977, with Candidate Jackson, 1988.

In 1999 and 2000, Hentoff also criticized Jesse Jackson for his refusal to get involved with the effort to free black slaves in Sudan.

Tommy Allsup, RIP

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UPDATE: The funeral for Tommy Allsup will be held Wednesday, January 18, 2017, at 11 a.m., at First Baptist Church, Owasso. Flowers may be sent to Mowery Funeral Home 9110 N. Garnett Rd. Owasso, OK 74055.

Tommy_Allsup-Cains_Ballroom-20120304-Cropped.jpg

Legendary guitarist Tommy Allsup died yesterday, January 11, 2017, at the age of 85.

Allsup was raised on a farm west of Owasso and graduated from Claremore High School in 1949. Allsup was a member of Johnnie Lee Wills' western swing band in 1952, had his own band in Lawton and Odessa, played guitar in recordings and on tour with Buddy Holly, became an A&R man and producer for Liberty Records in Los Angeles, and became one of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, working with Wills from 1959 until 1973's For the Last Time, which Allsup produced and on which he played bass.

Allsup is best known as Buddy Holly's lead guitarist for the fateful 1959 Winter Dance Party tour. He and bassist Waylon Jennings had been slated to fly with Holly from Clear Lake, Iowa, to the next stop on the tour, but Jennings gave up his seat to J. P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper"), who was ill, and Allsup lost a coin toss to Richie Valens for the last seat on the plane.

Allsup met Holly at the Norman Petty Studio in Clovis, New Mexico. That's Allsup's licks you hear on "Heartbeat" and "It's So Easy." Here's Allsup, in an interview with Darryl Hicks in 2008, explaining how he came to play for Holly in May of 1958, and how he wound up on the Winter Dance Party Tour:

During a lot of the Fifties I had a band named the Southernaires based out of Lawton, Oklahoma. We were working at a place called the Southern Club. We played there seven nights a week. It was there that I got a call from a friend of mine, a piano player, to come out to Clovis and record with a trio he was working with. I took off a couple of days from the club and went over to Clovis to help out. We recorded the trio one night. Norman Petty, the studio owner, had a bass player, a drummer and a background vocal group on staff there. He didn't have a guitar player right then, so he asked me if I wanted to stay around a few days and play on some more records. I said, "Sure." It was during that time that I first met Buddy Holly....

...Buddy came in from England. He and the Crickets already had a few hits by then. He asked me to play on some of his records. The first night we cut "It's So Easy (to Fall in Love)."...

The summer of `58 both Buddy and Jerry Allison got married. That fall they had a tour coming up called "The Show of Stars" out of New York. There were probably twenty acts on it. Buddy asked me to go on tour with them. That was also the time that he decided that he wanted to move to New York, but the Crickets didn't want to live there. He was also having some trouble with Norm Petty at the time, so in the end he went ahead and moved and the other guys all stayed in Clovis....

I went back to the band from Lawton, and we moved to Odessa. That area was starting
to boom with the oil business and all, so we went there to open up a new dance hall named the Silver Saddle. I played there with a guy named Moon Mullican (the hillbilly boogie piano picker out of Nashville who ended up being so influential over guys like Hank Williams, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bill Haley). We were there in Odessa on New Years' Eve. Buddy was in Lubbock for the holidays, and he drove down to see us play. He told me that about this tour called the Winter Dance Party Tour that was coming up, and that Jerry Allison and Joe B. Mauldin weren't going to go. He asked me tour with him and mentioned that he was going to hire a West Texas kid named Waylon Jennings to play bass. He wanted me to find a drummer. I mentioned that there was a good drummer from that area named Charles Bunch. Charles, or Carl, as everyone calls him, was in that first trio I played in the session at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis.

You'll need to click that link to read Allsup's account of the fateful coin flip with Richie Valens and what happened to that coin.

Later that year, Allsup headed to Los Angeles. He became Liberty Records' A&R director for Country & Western music and a record producer and session musician for both country and pop artists. That's his guitar (and Leon Russell's keyboards) on Gary Lewis and the Playboys' hit "This Diamond Ring." Allsup produced all of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys' recordings on Liberty, including the 1960 and 1961 sessions that reunited Bob Wills and vocalist Tommy Duncan. Tex Williams was another artist whose work was produced by Allsup for Liberty.

Allsup built his own studio in Odessa in the mid-1960s, from which emerged one of the more unusual rock hits of the 1960s, "In the Year 2525," by Zager and Evans.

In 1968, Allsup went on to Nashville to work as a studio musician, backing many of the legends of country music, including George Jones, Marty Robbins, Reba McIntire, Ferlin Husky, Faron Young, Wanda Jackson, Lynn Anderson, Charlie Rich, and Kenny Rogers. (See Praguefrank's Country Discography for details.) In 1973, he produced and played bass on Bob Wills's final album, For the Last Time. After Wills's death, Allsup produced and sometimes performed with the Original Texas Playboys, led by Leon McAuliffe.

For the last 20 years or so, Allsup joined Leon Rausch to front Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, the band officially authorized by the Bob Wills estate to carry on his musical legacy. With the Playboys, Allsup made appearances at Cain's Ballroom every March for the annual Bob Wills Birthday Bash and every April at Bob Wills Day in Turkey, Texas, along with gigs from coast to coast. While the lineup of the Texas Playboys has varied depending on the sidemen available to travel to a gig, Allsup and Rausch have been constants, with Allsup on lead guitar and Rausch on lead vocals. At every performance I witnessed, Allsup would also sing on several Bob Wills tunes, Buddy Holly's "Raining in My Heart," and the blues tune "Big Boss Man."

Tommy Allsup and Leon Rausch, Cain's Ballroom, March 4, 2012

Allsup was one of the last surviving musicians to have toured and recorded with Bob Wills. Leon Rausch, Bobby Koefer, Herb Remington, Ramona Reed, and Jody Nix are among the few who are still with us. Tommy Allsup's absence will be keenly felt at this year's Bob Wills Birthday Bash.

MORE:

In 2011, John Erling interviewed Tommy Allsup for his Voices of Oklahoma series.

Radio station WFMU's "Beware of the Blog" has the entirety of Twistin' the Country Classics (Liberty, 1963) available for your listening pleasure. Tommy Allsup headed a band of studio musicians called the Raiders.

Buddy Holly historian Randy Steele spoke to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal about Tommy Allsup's visit last fall.

"Tommy's body may have been 85, but his hands were as young as ever, and so was his mind," said Steele, adding he's a longtime friend of the Holly family and an avid fan and researcher of Holly and the Crickets. "He played unbelievable. It was almost effortless, or seamless."

NOTE: Photos are from the 2012 Bob Wills Birthday Bash at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. Copyright 2012 by Michael D. Bates. All rights reserved.

If you read my earlier entry about cricket in Australia, you're likely champing at the bit, wondering where you can see this high-scoring sport close to home.

In the month of January, your best opportunity is while seated on your sofa. NBC Sports Network (channel 317/1317 on Cox Tulsa cable) is airing one KFC Big Bash League game every week through the end of the season, plus the semifinal and final matches. This is TV-friendly Twenty20 cricket -- twenty overs per side, with an overall three-hour time limit. Teams are penalized if they fail to complete their bowling innings within 90 minutes; the Brisbane team faces the suspension of their team captain for going five minutes over. The Brisbane-Perth match, which aired live at 2:30 am this morning, will be rebroadcast Thursday, January 12, 2017, at 11:00 am Tulsa time. It's a very different fan experience, too: In contrast to the empty stands for the Sheffield Shield matches I watched, the Gabba was sold out for this match, which featured flashy scoreboard graphics, music between overs, and a swimming pool overlooking the pitch.

But when our weather warms up, there will be an opportunity to see live and local cricket. Two Tulsa clubs, the Greater Tulsa Cricket Club and the Green Country Cricket Club, participate in the Two-State Cricket League (TSCL), along with five clubs based in Wichita, three in Oklahoma City, and one each in Lawton, Stillwater (associated with OSU), and Salina, Kansas. Gauging from the names on the roster, it appears that one of Tulsa's two clubs is predominantly Indian and the other Pakistani. Both teams play at Ute Park, south of Jackson Elementary School at Ute St. and N. Pittsburg Ave. (A well-tended wicket shows up clearly on satellite photos.) The 2017 schedule is not yet posted, but last year's list of fixtures indicates that they play 35-over cricket from early April until October and Twenty20 cricket in October.

As I learn more details, I'll keep you posted.

The Vital Records Department of the Oklahoma State Department of Health has made its database of birth and death certificates searchable online. While the certificates themselves can't be viewed, the limited information (county and date) may provide helpful leads to family historians. The database includes limited information on births that occurred more than 20 years ago and deaths that occurred more than 5 years ago.

Certified copies of birth and death certificates may be ordered from the Department of Health, but those that are not yet considered public record require some justification -- proof of relationship to the subject of the record, or a court order.

Birth certificates older than 125 years and death certificates older than 50 years are considered public record and require only an application and payment of fees to receive a certified copy. I'm hoping that eventually researchers who don't require a certified copy will simply be able to view public record certificates online.

This development is thanks to a bill sponsored last session by State Sen. David Holt and State Rep. Elise Hall, which mandated the creation of the index and that it be available free and online. The bill also reduced the public record waiting period for death certificates from 75 to 50 years, bringing it more inline (but not entirely) with surrounding states. Chris Powell, whose genealogical research provided some impetus for these changes, wrote last June about the bill's passage and then, last week, hailed the advent of the online database, almost six months earlier than the legislation's deadline of July 1.


Australia: Cricket

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NOTE: The fifth day of the third test match between Australia and Pakistan began at 5:30 pm Tulsa time, Friday, January 6, 2017. You can listen online (free with registration) or watch the ball-by-ball description (no registration required) here. Australia finished its second and final innings late yesterday with a 464 run lead. Pakistan must either catch up to win (very difficult), or manage to keep batting until the end of the day for a draw (possible). UPDATE: Australia managed to get all 10 wickets within 80 overs, giving up only 244 runs. That's only three more runs than Australia gained for two wickets. Only one Pakistani batsman managed more than 50 runs. Final total: Australia 779, Pakistan 559.

NBC Sports Network (Cox Tulsa channels 317/1317) is airing ten KFC Big Bash League games this season, including semifinals and finals later this month. The next opportunity to watch is the Brisbane Heat vs. the Perth Scorchers, on January 11, 2017, 2:30 am Tulsa time, with a rebroadcast on January 12 at 11 am Tulsa time.

Imagine a variant on baseball:

  • Instead of scoring a run when you pass home plate, you score a run every time you reach a base.
  • Instead of four bases, there are only two.
  • Instead of the base consisting of a square pad you have to step on to be safe, there's a line you have to cross.
  • There's always one batter and one runner on first.
  • The pitcher pitches six balls from first base to home plate. Then home plate becomes first base and vice versa, the batter becomes the runner and vice versa, and a different pitcher pitches six balls in the opposite direction from the previous 6.
  • "Pitcher" is a misnomer. He can best to bounce and spin the ball off of the ground. Let's call him a bowler instead.
  • There's no such thing as a foul ball.
  • If you hit the ball, you don't have to run, if you don't think you have time to run to the other base before the ball comes back.
  • Instead of standing beside home plate, the batter stands in front of a thing that looks like three croquet stakes next to each other, with two little wooden tops resting on top of them.
  • Getting out involves someone catching a batted ball on the fly; a fielder hitting the croquet stake things with a ball, hard enough to knock the wooden top things off, while runners are between the lines; the bowler hitting the croquet stake/wooden top assembly with the ball, or the bowler hitting the batter's leg with the ball if the ball would otherwise have hit the croquet stake/wooden top things.
  • Instead of an outfield wall, there's a rope, at least 225 feet from the batter. Hit a ball over it on the fly, you score six runs. Hit it over on the ground, you score four runs.
  • If you hit a double or a home run, you get to keep batting, at least until it's time for the bowling to change direction.
  • One team keeps batting until 10 of their 11 batters are out. That's an innings. Each team gets two inningses.
  • You play for six hours a day, stopping a couple of times for lunch and snacks, for four or five days.
  • No pinch hitters, no pinch runners, no substitutions (except for illness or injury).
  • And if both sides haven't finished their inningses by the scheduled end of the game, it's a tie, no matter how big the lead.

This, then, is cricket.

I was delighted to hear that there would be a Sheffield Shield match at the Brisbane Cricket Ground while I was in town, and my schedule would allow me time to take in some of the match. Sheffield Shield is the name of the annual double-round-robin competition between state teams, and this four-day match would pit the Queensland Bulls against the New South Wales Blues. Better yet, there was no fee for admission, so I could watch as much as I had time for without feeling I'd wasted money on a ticket.

Sheffield Shield is just one level down from international competition (aka Test cricket), but levels of play aren't mutually exclusive the way they are in American baseball. A Shield team is more like a statewide all-star squad, and the team that competes in international tests is like the Olympic team. Steve Smith, captain for Australia, also captains the NSW Blues and plays for the Rising Pune Supergiants in the Indian Premier League. Other international players also play in Australia's Big Bash League, a shorter form of cricket. Smith was batting while I was there, and the Blues and Bulls combined included at least a half-dozen players that are also on the national team: Dave Warner, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon.

The state teams and national team each have a panel of selectors who pick which players will take the field for the next match. After a string of losses, the selectors take as much heat, if not more, than the players. After Australia lost the first two test matches in a series of three against South Africa last month, the chairman of selectors resigned. A revamped board of selectors called up some new players, based on their performances in this season's Sheffield Shield, and the recharged Aussies managed to win the third and final test against South Africa, a series of one-day internationals against New Zealand, and the first test against Pakistan. Currently Australia is ranked second among the 10 nations that play test cricket, trailing India; the two teams will meet in a four-match series in India in February and March.

I said the match was held at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, but if you were to ask a local for directions using that name, you'd likely get a blank stare. At five syllables, that name, while technically accurate, is way too long for an Aussie to trouble himself to speak it in full. Locally, the stadium is known as The Gabba, which is short for Woolloongabba, the Brisbane district in which it's located.

The Gabba, Brisbane, as seen from the intersection of Stanley Street and Main Street

There has been a cricket ground at the site of The Gabba since 1895, but the current 42,000-seat stadium is the product of a staged redevelopment from 1993 to 2005 that replaced historic grandstands and buildings with a round stadium, the sort of thing that American cities built in the US in the 1970s to house both baseball and football teams (e.g. Busch Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, Riverfront Stadium). I heard a cricket commentator on the radio refer to the redeveloped Gabba as "soulless." It certainly lacks any sense of history.

Before the redevelopment, there was a grassy berm known as "The Hill" where rowdier fans could let loose, and kids could run and play:

The Gabba hill was a place where you could stretch out, relax, drink full strength beer, watch some cricket, or even have a sleep late in the day if you needed it. And for those seated in the stands, when the game out in the middle was meandering along, you could always rely on the hill to provide some entertainment....

I remember sitting on the hill at the Gabba while my grandpop drank tallies and us kids played with an old bat and tennis ball.

The oval fits in between two major streets, but the stadium stands were a little too big. Rather than reroute the streets, the upper-levels of the stands overhang them.

On this October day in 2016, only one gate was open for the match. A stadium staffer handed me a roster of players and directed me to the handful of sections that were available. The ground-floor concourse looked the same as a US multipurpose stadium, except for the off-track betting parlor. A single concession stand offered soft drinks, hot dogs, chips (fries, that is), low-point beer, and mixed drinks. (They have pre-mixed cans of Bundaberg rum or Jack Daniels or Jim Beam and cola, diluted to 4.6-5.0% ABV, just a little stronger than 3.2 ABW beer.) Some sections were marked as no-alcohol zones.

Perhaps 200 fans were scattered around the open sections. The sky was cloudless. Qantas and Virgin Australia jets zoomed overhead on final approach to Brisbane airport several miles north.

The Gabba, Brisbane

The quiet was striking. No announcer on the PA system. No music between overs. Just conversation, interrupted by the crack of bat on ball and applause when someone hit for four or for six. The crowd rewarded a century -- a batsman reaching 100 runs -- with sustained applause and a standing ovation, even if it was a batter for the opposing team. Once in a great while, there'd be a cry of "howzat!" from the fielding team (the traditional way to appeal to the umpires to call a batter out), followed by a groan from the crowd in reaction to the umpire's decision. Over three separate visits to the stadium, I heard young tourists speaking French, middle-aged men discussing buying a television, train journeys, and the new female clerk at the 7-Eleven, a noisy, vulgar heckler (who was escorted out), and long-time cricket fans actually discussing the players and action on the field.

The scoreboards on either side of the stadium displayed the rosters for each team with batting and bowling stats for the current innings.

The Gabba scoreboard

Cricket is a challenging sport for spectators. The closest seat in the stadium is nearly as far from the wicket (about 250 feet) as a Fenway Park bleacher seat is from home plate (just over 300 feet). With few exceptions, plays don't develop over time but are almost instantaneous: A ball is bowled, the batter strikes, the ball is caught or stopped, all in a matter of seconds. Unless you have very keen eyes, you're dependent on the reaction of the fielders, a signal from the umpires, or a change on the scoreboard to know what just happened. Watching on TV, where the cameras can zoom in on the action, and where you can watch instant replays and hear play-by-play commentary, makes the action easier to follow. The exceptions are boundaries, particularly when there's a chase to see if a fielder can stop the ball before it crosses the rope; and run-outs, when the batters are trying to stretch a hit into as many runs as possible -- a fielder throws the ball at the wicket to knock off the bails while the runner is between the lines.

Bowling at The Gabba

The biggest challenge to drawing a crowd is the sheer length of the games. Unless you're retired, you just don't have time to watch a match that runs for six hours per day over four or five days. Cricket organizations have tried to adjust to modern tastes by playing day-night cricket, starting at 1 pm instead of 10 am, pushing the final session into the evening, under the lights (with a pink ball that's easier to see), and by offering shorter forms, like one-day internationals, where each team is limited to 50 overs (300 balls), or Twenty20 cricket, in which the limit is 20 overs (120 balls) a side, a game that can be finished in roughly three hours, the length of a longish baseball game. The KFC Big Bash League plays Twenty20 cricket in eight cities, one in each state capital plus a second team each for Melbourne and Sydney. Last year, the Brisbane Heat drew 29,353 fans on average, despite a 6th place finish. This past Tuesday, a match against the Sydney Sixers brought 32,371 fans through the turnstiles.

Compare that to 26,343 for the first day of the first test against Pakistan at the Gabba last month. As the match continued, attendance declined and then plummeted: 23,344 on day 2, 20,915 on day 3, 4,890 on day 4, and 2,593 on the final day. Australia had finished batting on day 3, and rain shortened day 4, but Pakistan finished strong and came close to catching up, only to be all-out early on day 5, when bad weather threatened again.

But long-time cricket fans worry that short-form cricket, which is becoming the norm for school matches, is ruining players for the traditional game. Twenty20 cricket puts a premium on swinging for the fences at every opportunity. In traditional cricket, patient shot selection is key to staying at bat and running up the score. If you hit twelve balls in a row on the ground and never budge from the crease, that's OK -- you've defended your wicket.

Traditional cricket adds more strategy to the game: The weather forecast, bowler fatigue, the changing condition of the ball and the pitch, the effect of sunlight, shadow, and stadium lights, the time remaining, all play into the captain's decisions about whether to bat or defend, when to "declare" (end an innings early, before 10 wickets have fallen), and whether to require a follow-on (a team leading by 200 or more runs after the first innings can require the trailing team to hit first in the second innings, increasing the likelihood that the match will be completed in the allotted time, avoiding a draw, and possibly avoiding the need to bat a second time).

The three formats for cricket are different enough that separate statistics are kept for each, even though many players participate in all three. Sheffield Shield matches are classified alongside Test matches, as they only differ in running four days instead of five.

Bowling at The Gabba

I became fascinated enough with the sport that I returned to the Gabba for a later day of this match (stopping in to watch a few overs while my laundry was drying in a nearby laundromat) and again with my family a month later, to see Queensland against South Australia. I watched New Zealand wrap up its successful home series against Pakistan on TV and enjoyed listening to the Australia-New Zealand series of One-Day Internationals on the radio, as Mitchell Starc, a solid bowler and batsman, knocked one six after another. At the moment, I have to settle for listening to the Pakistan test series online, via cricket.com.au.

Oklahoma_Oilfield_Blues-Cover.jpg

Dale Ingram posted the cover of this piece of sheet music from 1920 on the "Oklahoma History -- People, Places, Things" Facebook group. He was kind enough to send me the two inside pages, too.

"The Oklahoma Oilfield Blues" was written by Jack Randolph (lyrics) and John F. Carroll (music). It was published in 1920 by the H. M. Keifer Music Pub. Co. of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The cover, printed in blue, gold, and black, depicts a dapper man in a boater and cuffed pants sitting on a park bench and reading the "Oil and Gas News." In the background is the Minnehoma Gusher, "the 15,000 Barrel Well, PAWHUSKA, OKLAHOMA." The Minnehoma Oil Company was founded by George F. Getty, the father of J. Paul Getty.

The gusher, which came in on January 4, 1920, made national news:

OIL MEN RUSH TO NEW FIELD

(published in the El Paso Herald, January 14, 1920)

Pawhuska, Okla., Jan. 14. -- Since the Minnehoma Oil company's gusher on the Jackson-Worten lease, in the northeast corner of section 14-26-8 [5 miles W and 5 miles N of Pawhuska], came in 10 days ago, more than 100 new locations have been made and already 15 derricks have been started. Trains of trucks carrying materials to the various sites line the road from Pawhuska to the new well.

This well, the largest gusher ever brought in in Oklahoma, encountered production at 2313 feet with the drill 28 feet in the Mississippi lime. The monster flow came as a complete surprise to the owner of the well. It is the No. 3 on this quarter section. The No. 1 was abandoned as dry and the No. 2 made 25 barrels a day. Naturally when the great flow came there was not sufficient storage facilities arranged. Oil covered the ground for more than half a mile. Some 5000 gallons of oil was burned. Along the creek between the wel and the large reservoir, temporary dams were constructed and more than a dozen pumps were put in operation. In this way at least 40,000 barrels of oil valued at $100,000 was saved.

The Gulf Refining company and the Prairie Pipe line concern are rushing two lines to the well from their respective trunk lines.

Operators say that Pawhuska is surrounded by the greatest oil pool yet discovered. Within a radius of eight miles during the past two months four wells have been brought, proving the existence of as many separate fields. The last of these wells was brought in by the J. D. Wrightman company, of Tulsa, only a few days ago in section 30-[2]6-10, four miles northeast of town. This well is making a 100 barrels from the Bartlesville sand.

Still another new field was discovered when Gardner and Spencer completed their 500 barrel well on the southwest quarter of section 19-25-9 [three miles west and three miles south of Pawhuska], one mile from production.

Pawhuska is the mecca toward which Oklahoma producers are now turning and great things will happen in this field within the next few months.

A special advertising spread in the February 1, 1920, Tulsa Sunday World, celebrated Pawhuska's growth (quadrupling between 1910 and 1920) and reported that four oil fields had been found around the city in the previous 60 days and the Minnehoma Gusher had been tamed and was producing 1,000 barrels per day.

There's not much on the web about this song. In March 2007, Eric Marchese performed the song at the Orange County Ragtime Society.

Eric closed his set with a nod to the state of Oklahoma's centennial this year by playing his own, souped-up arrangement of John F. Carroll's music to "The Oklahoma Oil Field Blues," one of the few ragtime pieces to come out of the Sooner State (published in 1920 by H.M. Keifer Music Publishing Company in Pawhuska, Okla.). Again, Eric refrained from singing the piece's lyrics (by Jack Randolph) but described them (the singer longs to be back home in the oilfields where he will, presumably, one day strike it "rich as old John D."). The cover of the sheet music depicts "the Minnehoma Gusher, the 15,000-barrel well" in Pawhuska, as a young gent in a suit sits on a park bench reading a newspaper, the "Oil and Gas News."

The song also is listed in the 1920 Catalogue of Copyright Entries

The lyrics:

I love Oklahoma and the climate too.
When I leave that state I'm always feeling blue.
I want to go back there just to play the oil game,
To make some money and to win some fame.

There are men down there who just worked in the ditch,
Took a little chance and now they're more than rich.
I read all about them in the Oil and Gas News,
So that's just why I've got the oil field blues.

CHORUS:

I've got the blues,
I've got the oilfield blues,
I never felt this way.
I'm going back to a box car shack
If I have to work both night and day.
I'll save up all my money and invest you see,
And if I'm lucky I'll be rich as old John D.
Oh, boy, I've got the Oklahoma oil field blues.

According to the Long Lost Blues website, Jack Randolph and John F. Carroll also wrote the Jamaica-Ginger Blues.

(Click on each photo to see the full-sized image.)

Oklahoma_Oilfield_Blues-1.jpg

Oklahoma_Oilfield_Blues-2.jpg

In the spotlight

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Musical Museum | History

Near Kew in London, this museum began as a private collection of player pianos and grew to include self-playing violins and other musical entertainments. Here is a video of the early days of this museum, its founder, and some of the collection in operation, including a violano built by the Mills Novelty Company.

A MAN IN THE WOMEN'S RESTROOM AT DISNEYLAND -- The Get Real Mom

A man hangs out in the ladies' room at Disneyland, and no one challenges him:

"If this had been 5 years ago, you bet your a-- every woman in there would've been like, 'Ummm what are you doing in here?', but in 2017? the mood has shifted. We had been culturally bullied into silenced. Women were mid-changing their baby's diapers on the changing tables and I could see them shifting to block his view. But they remained silent. I stayed silent. We all did. Every woman who exited a stall and immediately zeroed right in on him...said nothing. And why? B/c I...and I'm sure all the others were scared of that 'what if'. What if I say something and he says he 'identifies as a woman' and then I come off as the intolerant a------ at the happiest place on earth? So we all stood there, shifting in our uncomfortableness...trading looks. I saw two women leave the line with their children. Still nothing was said. An older lady said to me outloud, 'What is he doing in here?' I'm ashamed to admit I silently shrugged and mouthed, 'I don't know.' She immediately walked out...from a bathroom she had every right to use without fear....

"...But this notion that we're shamed into silence b/c we might offend someone, has gone too far. There was a man in the bathroom. Not transgender. There was a man who felt entitled to be in the woman restroom, because he knew no one would say anything. There were 20-25 people by the time I left, who were scared and uncomfortable by his ominous presence. And the only thing stopping us, was our fear of political correctness and that the media has told us we don't know what gender is anymore. I never want to be in the position again....

"Gender must be clearly defined to keep women safe. We can not tell women they don't know what a man is anymore. We can not coddle this small fraction of people (people who are men, 'identify as women', but have made no external attempt to show that) at the risk of women and children everywhere. The wrong men will take advantage of this loophole and put others in danger. "

The Bond villain libertarians of Guatemala | Washington Examiner

"Francisco Marroquin -- named after the first Bishop of Guatemala, who translated several of the indigenous languages -- is one of the best universities in Latin America. Its fees are at the upper end of the range, and it sets stiff entrance criteria, including a required fluency in English. All its undergraduates, whether they are studying law, medicine or architecture, are given a basic grounding in the principles of personal liberty and limited government.

"Does that sound like indoctrination? Perhaps it is. But only in the sense that all universities indoctrinate their students. We expect our places of learning to uphold certain standards: Respect for truth, decency towards others, self-restraint.

"What makes Francisco Marroquin unusual is not that it seeks to inculcate values. Rather, it's that those values are not the leftist ones prevalent in almost every other institution of higher education. Instead of promoting anti-racism as the supreme political value, Francisco Marroquin promotes freedom. Safe spaces, micro-aggressions and trigger warnings have no place in these handsome buildings. Students are constantly exhorted to think for themselves.

"To leftists, the place must seem like a Bond villain's lair. Although it's surrounded by Guatemala City, you wouldn't think so when you're there. The campus is in a ravine, overshadowed by the viridian spray of its arboretum -- the university governors take pride in the fact that, unlike some ecologists, they are engaging in practical conservation work rather than demanding that politicians do it for them. A socialist who stumbled upon the place would surely conclude that he had uncovered some "Boys From Brazil" type plot.

"The free-market liberalism taught here has a samizdat feel. Most undergraduates are as opposed to the big-government paternalism that passes for conservatism in Latin America as they are to the Left."

Nolli map as a tool for small developers | CNU

"A Nolli Map is a two-dimensional plan drawing used to understand and document the accessibility and flow of space within a city. The first Nolli ever was drawn by the Italian architect from where the map derives its name from, Giovanni Battista Nolli. For purposes of dividing the city into wards and planning future public works, in 1736 Pope Benedict XIV commissioned Nolli to create the most accurate plan drawing of Rome ever made. Giovanni documented every building within the city and consequently every space. Unique to the Nolli Drawing is the representation of public space inside buildings, as part of the urban realm. There is no distinction between inside and out; only space and mass. The Nolli Map of Rome presented the Eternal City in a way that deepened the comprehension of its neighborhood fabric....

"As I enter into the realm of small scale incremental development myself, I can't help but recall the time I spent documenting Seaside. The level of comprehension I gained about this place, from walking and drawing every inch of it, was almost intimate. A key factor distinguishing small developers from the large developer is a deep and authentic understanding of a neighborhood. This is where the Nolli Map has its advantages and offers tremendous value to small scale developer."

"BodyWise: Discovering Your Body's Intelligence for Lifelong Health and Healing" | Public Radio Tulsa

The January 30, 2017, edition of Studio Tulsa was an interview with Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams, author of BodyWise: Discovering Your Body's Intelligence for Lifelong Health and Healing. Dr. Abrams discussed chronic pain and fatigue and the challenges of tracing those systemic and diffuse conditions back to a cause, which can sometimes involve food sensitivity (e.g. gluten) and hypothyroidism. Dr. Abrams emphasized the importance of journaling to keep a careful daily account of nutrition, hydration, sleep, and stress so as to correlate them accurately with their effect on pain and energy levels.

NHTSA: Technical Service Bulletins Help -- Office of Defect Investigations

A lot of useful information that was once only available to dealers and factory-authorized repair centers is now available to the general public. Use this page to find technical service bulletins that may help you maintain and repair your car -- or help you figure out what's wrong, so you can have someone else do the repair you need.

BBBind.com: Free TSB and Wiring Diagram search

BBB Industries, manufacturers of starters, alternators, power steering pumps, and other automotive equipment, allows you not only to search for TSBs and wiring diagrams for your car, but you can actually view and download them! Free registration required.

19 Australian Snacks Every American Needs To Try Immediately

I tried vegemite on buttered bread, lamington, and meat pies, all of which I enjoyed, but missed out on the rest. Thinking I should have tried TimTams and cheesymite rolls.

10 British Things About Tulsa, OK | Anglophenia | BBC America

Things U.K., the White Lion pub, Scotfest, and cricket and rugby clubs are on the list.

One-third of Californians support Calexit « Hot Air

When two components of the same nation have starkly different ideas about what is good, true, and beautiful, maybe it's time to split up. Czechia and Slovakia had a "velvet divorce" in 1993; could the US manage a similarly peaceful split? A California departure would make it harder for the Left to reassert control over the rest of the US. Any secession policy would have to consider how to deal with military bases and other federal property (a status-of-forces agreement?), the seceding state's share of the Social Security "trust fund" and its share of the national debt (maybe we'll call it a wash), water rights (who gets how much water from the Colorado River), and trade and immigration policy. The remaining states would need to worry about access to the Pacific Ocean, particularly if Washington and Oregon left along with California. What if a section of the state prefers to remain, like West Virginia did in 1863? The newly-birthed nation would have to set up defenses, establish a currency, create a postal service (or leave it to the private sector?). California is supposed to be a donor state, so it would have plenty of money to fund its own infrastructure and social spending when it stops paying federal taxes.

If all 50 states seceded, we might be able to move back to the original idea of the USA -- sovereign, autonomous states that share little more than a common defense, a common currency, and free trade and movement.


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